Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha – 02

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Never a dull moment in the world of the Gods.

I’m sure it’s because of my Western upbringing, but I find something very appealing in the idea that the beings at the center of a belief system can be depicted as being so human.  It seems very healthy to me to be able to see Kami this way – for their existence to be treated with wit and irony rather than simply reverence.  There seems to be an endless fascination with the lives of the Gods in manga and anime, and that’s just fine with me – it continues to be the canvas on which some of the best series are painted.

Inari, Konkon Koi Iroha is the latest in this line, and so far it’s delivering exactly what I expected, to an almost frightening degree.  It’s hard not to compare this show with Gingitsune, coming as it does immediately on that show’s heels.  I’ll be thrilled if Inari Konkon ends up being that good and so far I’d be inclined to doubt it will, but it was around the third episode where Gingitsune started to find another gear and began transforming into the near-masterpiece it ended up being.  We’re at that point with Inari Konkon now, and there are signs the plot is about to similarly level up.  But the difference here is that this show has the spectre of that 10-episode schedule hanging over it.  How much is it going to be able to deliver in such a short run?

Make no mistake, this is quite a different series from Gingitsune – quite a bit more openly irreverent, considerably more conventional in narrative style and plot-driven.  It also pushes the cuteness factor a bit harder too – perhaps a bit too much for my tastes, as while I liked this episode a lot there were a few times where I felt the blood sugar level begin to creep dangerously high.  I like the fact that Inari Konkon (like Gingitsune) seems to be a show about basically nice people trying to get by and find meaning in life – there really aren’t any bad guys here.  But Gingitsune really benefited from the addition of Satoru, who added both a bit of an edge and a lot of pathos – and I’m wondering if the emergence of Inari’s brother Touka (who can also see Uka-sama and clearly has a bit of ‘tude about it) might have a similar impact on this series.  Looks like we may find out next week.

Inari Konkon also differs in that it has a conventional puppy romance at its center, with the absurdly cute and also kind Inari crushing hard on the absurdly kind and also cute Kouji.  Seriously, these two are pretty much cuddly-bears who could hardly be less threatening – but they are likeable, and it seems this courtship is going to form one of the pillars of the story.  This time around we get a pretty funny scene of Inari transforming into one of Kouji’s pals when she’s too embarrassed to deliver the handouts he’s missed as herself.  Here we see just how sensitive Kouji really is – he skipped school to take care of his mother and he cooks dinner for his little brother – but we also see that his tastes in literature are not atypical for someone in his peer group.

It’s amusing to see Inari’s reactions to all this, but it’s also true that she’s really violating Kouji’s privacy here – it’s a pretty dishonest way to approach a relationship (not to mention potentially causing severe awkwardness between Kouji and his pal).  That ties directly into the next development, which sees Inari and Uka-sama whisked off to the Celestial Plains to be called on the carpet by Ameratsu-Oomikami (Isobe Masako).  Ameratsu sits at the very top level of the Shinto hierarchy, but this is certainly a different take on her – a frumpy Oba-san who enjoys messing with the heads of her subordinate Kami to alleviate her boredom (she would have looked right at home with a cigarette hanging from her lower lip).  This is mostly played for laughs, too, but there’s a slightly serious issue here – Uka-san acted kind of irresponsibly with Inari, and Inari is clearly not equipped to responsibly deal with the power she now possesses.  I hope this isn’t totally glossed over in the episodes ahead.

The upshot of Ameratsu’s decree is a test – Inari has to go an entire day without transforming, or else she has to undergo years of training in the Celestial Plains and Uka-sama has to be married off.  Ameratsu ups the ante by having her familiars try and trick and/or badger Inari into transforming, which succeeds indirectly when Inari is forced to transform to help Sumizome after the latter gets heatstroke fleeing the familiars with Inari.  Certainly Inari can’t be held accountable for that, and Uka-sama too passes the test by trying to accept full responsibility on herself (which she really should anyway).  I liked seeing Sumizome fleshed out as something more than a love rival here – she’s actually a nice person, too – but then, this is that sort of show.  With Kouji’s confession turning out to be nothing more than a request to manage the basketball team, she’s also off the hook as a love rival – for now, anyway, as it wouldn’t surprise me to see that Kouji actually has feelings for her after all.

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  1. d

    I'd say this show is my favorite of all the debuts of this season. It's nothing too great yet, but I can definitely see it going there. I too am looking forward to what kind of dynamic Inari's brother will bring to the plate.

  2. G

    Mine too!!!!

    Right off the bat I have enjoyed this series just as last season I did with Gingitsune (and Log Horizon). My other love this season is Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta.

  3. t

    I just love it!
    the same feelings I had last episode remained, but are now even stronger toward this show.
    entering the god's realm, seeing Ameratsu (and the rest) and the test (and other stuff LOL)..they really put life into the manga pages with the adaptation.

    sure, we can't ignore Gingitsune, after all it was only last season so it's natural for it to jump to our head. but there is a different feeling for me, despite being so alike and taking place in almost same setting except for some details.
    I think it's both the characters and SoL direction this show is taking. the characters here are middle school (I think?) and in Gingitsune they were in high school and thinking forward, thus we can see that the characters are enjoying life a bit more since they have less worries (or worries of middle school children). but make no mistake – it doesn't mean Inari Konkon isn't serious. there are some great themes here and there.

    so far so good for Inari. 2 eps built something pretty solid that keeps developing. we are exposed more to the characters' nature and enjoy both real world with the touch of fantasy (whether it's god's realm or the shrine or other stuff like Kon the kitsune). the atmosphere and execution here are simple and great thanks to animation and all, and as we move on a little bit more and getting to connect to this show, it's even more funny.
    and Inari Konkon is definitely one of the top shows this winter. and thanks god for that (:

  4. M

    So is this your favourite show of this season discounting Hunter x Hunter, Enzo? =P

  5. Well, you'd have to discount Gin no Saji and Nagi no Asukara before we even got down to any of the new shows, for starters.

    I'll be doing the check-in post next week, as usual. I like this show, but at this point I might just give the nod to one of three others – Space Dandy, Hoozuki or Noragami. SD #2 was the best ep of any new series this season, and I think Hoozuki #2 was second. But Noragami has been the most consistent. I think Inari and Toaru are a half-step below, with a lot of potential.

  6. i

    I prefer Inari to Gingitsune, the latter felt more cliched to me. It was also really lacking any narrative unlike this. Inari has this funny little romance and gaining god power story to it which I felt is much better than the two episodes of Gingitsune I watched. This pushes the cute button harder but it I feel it is simply cute and not moe while Gingitsune was just just flat. There's a fine difference in taste but I always maintain that I can only enjoy a slice of life kind of show if it has comedy. Perhaps for GE the standard is different. Also for me the best #2 episode was D-Frag, just as funny as the first with the added bonus of Shizuka Itou, she will make a moe pig out of me yet.

  7. M

    Gingitsune takes a while to warm up to its fore, but once its there it is VERY good. That happens around episode 8, I think, when Satoru gets dragged around by his Kendo captain to learn the nature of friendship. But even before that the show had moments of great depth touched upon with its slice of life content, like the sudden awareness of eternity offered when Gintaro talks to Makoto about her growing up. That was episode 4, I think. While Inari might be more entertaining to watch, Gingitsune is the deeper and more serious show, once you get past the initial few episodes with the random gods.

  8. S

    I completely agree with Ishrun’s value judgment on the comparison between the two shows and I have seen all episodes of Gingitsune. The problem with the latter was the utter lack of a driving force plot-wise. The characters and story didn’t have a main goal to strive for which made the overall series indeed flat, boring and pointless. Inari has a romance and a possible love triangle, which at least create some possible plotlines, even though it’s currently also just an average show in my opinion.

    Inari Kon actually reminds me more of Kimi ni Todoke, one of my favorite shoujo series, than Gingitsune. The main guy very much resembles Kazehaya (both in looks and personality) and the brunette girl looks like Kurumi.

  9. Gingitsune wasn't a plot-driven show and never pretended to be, so I was fine with that. It was the very definition of what slice-of-life should be when it's executed well, as far as I'm concerned.

  10. m

    I agree that Gingitsune was perfectly executed slice of life. Though admittedly, to me, that has major limitations in terms of having a plot. And while I really enjoyed watching it, Gingitsune never was anything special in terms of overall entertainment or memorable moments. But as good as slice of life can be. (that's a large part of personal preference and not a knock on slice of life as a whole)

  11. t

    Gingitsune just played its own melody which is different from Inari.
    besides, I think it was far more dangerous for Gingitsune to push in romance. Gingitsune winked in that direction, but nothing more. it could hurt Gingitsune magic if they were to do it. since the MC are teenagers, while in Inari the characters are more children. sure, it's only 2-3 years change, but it's a major change in atmosphere and performance.

    and I think Gingitsune played well with its own format, they induce the right atmosphere and SoL combining fantasy world. with interesting themes here and there.
    in Inari the pattern seem the same. but the characters are much because they are so called a step before being real-time teenagers. and we are exposed much more to the characters nature, allowing to push romcom stuff. and it's kinda plays a different melody. there are still great themes which executed well in Inari, but the way is different.

    I don't think Gingitsune fall from Inari or vice versa.

  12. t

    I also must say, due to the above, that it's kinda natural to feel more closer to Inari. it's talking much more straightforward and in a familiar way than Gingitsune, which maybe it's magic doesn't speak in naturally to everyone as Inari. and that's OK to feel like that.

    still, the last sentence in previous comment valid: I don't think Gingitsune fall from Inari or vice versa.

  13. i

    Personally I don't enjoy slice of life shows like Sketchbook, Tamayura or Aria or. I yawn at the lack of anything happen. Considering how hectic my own life has always been, maybe that's why a pure slice of life doesn't really feel like a slice of life because my own life is not spent relaxing in hicktown. That's probably why I like sweet romances and hilarious comedies much more, because they feel more like a slice of life to me.

    But if someone else instead enjoyed the quiet and simpleness or lived it then they might like shows like Gingitsune more. Matter of perspective is important to consider, after all 80% of male Otaku love K-ON since they want to be part of a girl in a music club.

  14. i

    Also I consider slice of life like Gin no Saji, NHK and so on very entertaining because they mirror real life much better and don't come off as plotless.

  15. Plenty of very important stuff happens in Gingitsune (and in all the best slice-of-life). it just doesn't happen to follow a conventional conflict–resolution narrative structure. It's emotionally much deeper than most plot-driven series.

  16. M

    'Slice of Life' that relies on supernatural elements is cheating as far as I'm concerned.

  17. Z

    OMG Aria. That is possibly one of the single most painful experiences I've ever had. Interesting terraformed world backdrop inhabited by frosted sugar characters that do crap all except spout catchphrases over and over again.

  18. i

    @Maxulous – nice.

    Well agree to disagree Enzo. A life which is spent without any particular goal in mind sounds not just boring but pretty hollow. I like slice of life's that are about something like Gin no Saji. And the non-conventional things that Gingitsune does can be done just as well in a narrative setting and because of the narrative the anime itself is better. Let me put it to you this way – would you read Gingitsune were it a book? I certainly wouldn't but Gin no Saji I would.

  19. You seem to know an awful lot about a show you only watched 15% of…

    I'd certainly read it as a manga, sure. Just as I would Gin no Saji.

  20. i

    It's not just Gingitsune that I;m talking about thank you very much, though in current context it is the topic. It's all shows like it of which I can certainly say I've watched upto 100% of several times, much to my regret. Also I said book; most Japanese people would tell you, there isn't any manga in most libraries.

  21. Well actually, you're going to different libraries than I am because the ones I went to in America did have manga, and the ones in Japan certainly all do. But that aside…

    When you choose to drop an anime after two episode, you forfeit the right to make categorical statements about the anime as a whole. It's a choice you make – I make it every time I drop a show too, a calculated risk that I know enough to decide it isn't for me. Fair play. But if you watched two episodes of Gingitsune you have no idea what the things it does well even are, never mind whether they could be done just as well in a conventional narrative setting. Not knowing that is the choice you make by dropping it.

  22. S

    In his defense, I ended up with the same conclusion on Gingitsune as him, only it took me 12 episodes (So I guess he’s better than me at judging this series 😉 ).
    The problem I had with the show is that it is a pure episodic slice-of-life. It’s hollow and meaningless. It didn’t have a central point, conflict, goal or message. It showed some real potential with Satoru’s background story, but the show hardly did anything significant with it afterwards. It’s just about a girl who can see spiritual heralds and that’s it. It’s okay as a premise, but the show didn’t build a story or conflict around it. In the end, Gingitsune felt like a waste of time and a forgettable experience, since there is nothing of importance to gain from watching it.

  23. While I feel as if you completely missed the point of the show (which I think was quite profound and emotionally subtle) you certainly earned the right to that opinion by actually watching it.

  24. M

    "But so far it could hardly be said to be gripping. To be blunt it bordered on boring for me at times, and the school scenes dragged more than a little.

    For all that, though, I still like Gingitsune. I won't deny that it may in large part be due to the fact that this is a show tailor-made for Shinto otaku, and I certainly am one."

    I think your readers are entitled to take your word for it (and most seem to for better or worse, anyway…). Just because you equated high value to a show you were already personally invested in doesn't mean others are 'incorrect' for not responding to "profundities" or appreciating the "emotion subtleties" as you do. Besides which, "emotional resonance" that you keep harping on about is a very personal response and should be taken lightly as a measure of a show's greatness. There's a certain arrogance to telling others what they should feel.

  25. i

    @Maxulous this is Enzo's blog and its content has always been merely his own opinion and nothing more. Perhaps he should use more IMOs to convey this better but that's his choice. We have a comment system to state our own opinion on the content of his posts or choices, no matter how few episodes we watch.

    Also Enzo about your library statement read the below link from the International Federation of Library Associations, the leading body on library interests:

    They clearly state that most libraries either do not keep manga or keep ones only meant for educational use like picture books. Gingitsune, screw that, One Piece is hardly kept in any of them and that shows what else is missing. I don't know about others but I hardly think there's any manga of interest to most manga fans there:

  26. M

    @Ishruns – The point I was addressing was the asserted attitude that "you're wrong since you didn't connect to this show the way I do". That's a poor argument to make irrespective of bias, opinion or discussion platform.

    And it goes the other way. People were judging the shit out of those who connected with and appreciated Aku no Hana.

  27. All I see in your article is that at least 44 of the 58 libraries in that organizational survey have manga, and most school libraries do. And I can tell you I don't think I've ever seen one here that didn't have them in the display windows they have outside, never mind in the building itself.

    In any event this has already strayed completely off Inari Konkon, so I'm off this thread as of now.

  28. i

    Clearly we are reading into different things but yeah I agree to end it before it becomes a shouting match or whatever equivalent there is on the internet.

    @Maxulous, if Enzo came off as assertive than that is probably more due to choice of words than what he thought. I'm quite sure Enzo doesn't believe his opinion to be an absolute truth, no one's is. Like I said, using IMOs more to convey this would clear that.

  29. M

    You'd be surprised ishruns, bloggers are more often than not an innately narcissistic bunch. Commentators mostly exist to sate their ego. Part of the trade-off for personalized long-form critique I guess.

  30. J

    Are the gods calling themselves we, or is that just a Funimation thing?

  31. M

    Sounds like a Funimation thing. If I remember correctly Uka uses the singular "watashi" in referring to herself.

  32. k

    That's supposed to be a majestic plural so singular wouldn't be a problem… the problem is that there's nothing about Uka's personality, speech patterns or rank so far that would even suggest using this translation, and it just got worse in the latest episode what with her position re: Amaterasu and the other deities. I've no idea why the translator decided to go with the majestic plural, it's rather weird.

  33. R

    Not to disagree, because I'd say you're correct that it seems odd for Uka to be translated with the majestic plural, espcially since she isn't actually using it, but in terms of rank Uka no Mitama no Kami is the daughter of Susanoo. That places her quite close to Amaterasu herself in terms of "royal blood," so to speak. She outranked all of those sleezy pests who were hanging around during the test, hoping to marry her, and was entirely justified at flipping out on them when they treated her like a waitress.

    She actually would be justified in using the majestic plural due to that, but you are correct that it's entirely out of her personality to so so.

  34. k

    Anyone who can be ordered to dress like a high-class barmaid and serve other people, and she actually obeys, has no business using the majestic plural… ^^;;

  35. R

    Well, the point to remember is that you don't DISobey Amaterasu. When the one person who unquestionably outranks EVERYONE orders you to do something incredibly humiliating, there isn't a lot of choice in the matter.

  36. k

    'm sure it's because of my Western upbringing, but I find something very appealing in the idea that the beings at the center of a belief system can be depicted as being so human. It seems very healthy to me to be able to see Kami this way – for their existence to be treated with wit and irony rather than simply reverence.

    I don't know – how about Greek or Norse mythology? ^^;; They're all pretty much human, and as for reverence, the latter managed to put one of the biggest, manliest, most badass gods in drag and made a joke out of it (and then there's the story about the feet beauty contest), and the former doesn't have a whole lot of reverence for the deities either, most of the time.

  37. And how long has it been since the Greek or Norse Gods have been widely worshipped anywhere? At this point they're basically fictional characters like Sherlock Holmes or Doctor Who to 99% of the population, even in Sweden and Greece. The Shinto and Buddhist deities are part of a thriving, evolving belief system that's widely practiced today.

  38. m

    Not to debate religion at all (especially here of all places), but it almost feels like its not a higher being if its so human. It's essentially superheroes: ppl with special powers. Not that I find western religion any less ridiculous, but it begs the question why do you worship a being as holy if its the same as you but with powers? Seems like a very elitist mentality: those with power deserve to be praised and to rule those without. I want to note I mean this strictly in anime, and not to question, or ridicule anyone's personal beliefs b/c frankly I don't care either way what anyone believes.

  39. J

    You need to look into the idea of what kami are.

  40. k


    Greek and Norse deities may not be widely worshipped any more, but they're very much an integral part of our Western culture, especially the Greek ones. They may not be relevant in a spiritual sense, but culturally? Very much so. For that matter, though, it's not like the Western world in general treats the Judeo-Christian God with a whole lot of reverence – with the exception of those who take religion very seriously, but I wouldn't say they're a majority. Definitely not in my wider cultural community (ie. Europe). Then again, it may be just me, but in my experience most Japanese aren't particularly religious either.

  41. I don't see a lot of Americans or Europeans praying at Shrines to Zeus or Odin every day like a huge number of Japanese do to at Shinto Shrines. Or holding Norse or Olympian funerals, as something like 98% of Japanese families do with Buddhism. They may not be terribly religious in a wind-it-up-on-Sunday sort of way, but Buddhism and Shinto are woven into their lives in a second-nature sense.

    Yes, Greek and Norse Gods are culturally relevant in the West – but not spiritually, which is exactly my point. They're comic book characters and history book chapters, not spiritual symbols.

  42. k

    Again – I'm not saying they're spiritually relevant, I'm saying they're culturally relevant, and them being the way they are does, in fact, reflect a certain cultural attitude that is part of the "Western" heritage. (Also, I don't quite understand why you're calling them "comic book characters" – just because some of them appear in comics? These deities, especially the Greek ones, are very deeply entrenched in Western culture, they have a long history in art and literature, and their names are "alive" and used even today.)

    Also, as I pointed out, following traditions doesn't necessarily make someone particularly religious. The majority of people, at least over here, get Christened, hold Christian weddings and funerals, observe Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas, maybe even go to church every now and then, because it's tradition and not because they really believe in all that.

    In any case, my point is – what this show does (and many other anime/manga/etc. do) is not that special, really. Western culture, too, has a long history of being irreverent about its religions. What is special to me is the way they endlessly reinvent these characters in different settings.

  43. m

    I didn't like this episode nearly as much as I did the first. Way too much cuteness for my taste, almost to the point of it feeling far to unrealistic that so many people could be so nice. The visuals are amazing though, and the MC (when not being too nauseatingly cute) has a lot of depth and room to grow. I think it can turn out to be a great show, but I also don't share your love for anime set in Kyoto and in shrines (not that I dislike that either, just that alone won't make me enjoy an anime) so my expectations have been lowered after this week.

  44. k

    Probably been mentioned before, but this show reminds me more of Kamichu than Gingitsune.

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